Brazil: Christmas without masks

Mass and dinner in a parish in the center of São Paulo, with some of the thousands of people who live on the street and who, before God, "do not hide who they are".

To date, there are twenty thousand people living on the streets of São Paulo, one of Brazil’s richest cities. It is easy to see the many people who have made the streets their home and who, every day of the year, sleep under bridges, in arcades and in parks. Many seek food and friendship in the parishes. This has transformed some churches, filling them with beggars who attend Mass, pray and dine. This is what has happened in the central parish church of Bom Jesus dos Passos. Here, for thirty years, the parish priest, who is ninety years old, has celebrated Mass for the homeless, whom he then invites to dinner. For some time now, with some friends of the movement, we have been doing charity work there, preparing food. A friendship was born with the parish and with some of the poor.

At Christmas, as happens every year, we received an invitation to Mass and dinner with the homeless who attend the parish every week. The church, which accommodates about a hundred people, was full of people dressed in the same clothes that they sleep and beg in, holding garbage bags full of their belongings: no one hides what they are.
They arrived without masks to look at the Christ Child, to pray, eat and give thanks and, before it got too late, they left to go back to the street corner where they sleep. When celebrating Christmas Mass with the poor, it is easier to understand that we are all beggars before God. But it is even more surprising to recognize that the Mystery becomes a beggar in need of every man.

Julián de la Morena, São Paulo, Brazil